Vilches: A Week Off

The rest of our time in Vilches was very relaxing. Each day was essentially planned the morning of during one of our 3 coffee breaks and always ended up happening in the afternoon. We spent most mornings hanging and trying to sell Alfonso (I know, it’s sad but we need to continue our journey!). The morning after the horse ride Becca and I were wildly sore, so we were glad for the “rest day” Anneke kept talking about.

The plan was to visit Ted and Maruja (who are friends of Anneke) who live just down the road. They have an amazing house surrounded by their chicken coop, organic garden, a couple streams and, the piece de resistance, 40 bee hives! Ted said that at first the hives were to help with the garden and now they’re a main part of the house as they harvest the honey and sell it at local markets! This year, he harvested 1000kg of honey, which, we can say from experience, is delicious! We were lucky that it was sunny the day we went over, and Ted got us suited up in beekeeping suits so we could help him with the hives. It was a great experience, and definitely not something I expected we’d be doing in Chile! After about a 2 minute talk when we got home, we decided we’re going to set up a hive or two in Canada!

The following days were a blur of hiking, exploring the Reserva Nacional, working on Alfonso and just hanging out! We got to see lots of lookouts, a really cool archeological site and a monkey rock (pictures below)! We took a bus up to the reserva one day and were going to walk the 12km back to Anneke’s house after hiking for a couple hours, but luckily a nice local in a pick-up pulled over and told us to hop in the bed of the truck. We thought we were on the way home for him, but when he dropped us off and turned around we felt a little bad. This is just another example of how friendly and welcoming everyone in Vilches (and Chile in general) has been to us!

On the way to the reserva one day, we pulled over and enjoyed freshly baked empanadas in a women’s living room. Another day on the way down from a hike, a few of Anneke’s friends invited us up to their “Refugio” for a beer and we’re never going to say no to that!

We were also invited on a hike one day with Ted and Maruja while Anneke continued to move some things from her old house to her new one.

One of our favourite things was “onces” (I hope I spelt that right), which translates to elevens. It’s when people gather and first share tea and a small meal before having more adult drinks and of course some great conversation! We had “onces” with Ted and Muraj about 5 times in the 10 days and it was always great. On our last night Ted brought out a Carmenere dessert wine which was delicious!

Facts by Kyle (mostly true): The Carmenere grape was brought over to Chile by the French, and boy did it flourish. Meanwhile in France, all of these grapes were killed by a virus (I think). The Carmenere grapes were then brought back to France from Chile and they were never able to grow again and now this grape is exclusive to South America!

We even got to celebrate Ted’s birthday! A great night sharing drinks, food, and attempting to polish our rough Spanish. Becca and I think we have both learned more Spanish in those couple days than we have for the whole trip so far, which was handy for the coming days all alone on our journey to Northern Chile! Needless to say, those 10 days in Vilches will be some of our favourites! All thanks to Anneke’s hospitality and the great people of Vilches!

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